Tuesday, February 19, 2008

cookie of the month

(Photo courtesy of marthastewart.com)

In pursuit of the “best-girlfriend/partner in the world award”, I decided to give RJR the most creative, delicious, thoughtful gift for Christmas—twelve months of homemade cookies. As you might deduce from this gift, I was also broke at Christmas. Graduate writing fellowship running out, moving expenses, and the Welch handmade Christmas extravaganza in full effect, I pulled together a list of twelve kinds of cookies and arranged somewhat by season so that he could have a fresh batch around the middle of each month. Here’s what he is getting, some are from Martha and others are family recipes:

january :: chocolate-espresso snowcaps

february :: pecan linzer with cherry filling

march :: snickerdoodles

april :: mocha chip

may :: pistachio lemon drops

june :: citrus cornmeal shortbread

july :: peanut butter

august :: oatmeal seven grain with dried cranberries

september :: coffee-infused ginger

october :: swedish almond

november :: ginger molasses

december :: pinwheels

I made the Pecan Linzer’s for the first time last February, and while labor intensive, delighted in the result! I don't have the same cookie cutters, but improvise with what I have on hand.

· 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
· 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
· 3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
· 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
· 1/4 cup granulated sugar
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 1 large egg
· 1/2 cup cherry jam, strained

1. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl; set aside. Pulse pecans, confectioners' sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground (but not wet); transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. Add butter and granulated sugar; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and egg. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until combined. Halve dough; shape into disks. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Cut out squares with a 2-inch fluted cutter. Cut out centers of half the squares with a 1/2-inch heart cutter; reroll scraps. Space 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake squares and hearts until pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

4. Meanwhile, heat jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced and thickened, about 7 minutes; let cool.

5. Sprinkle cutout cookies with confectioners' sugar. Spread jam onto uncut squares; top with cutout ones. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.

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